07 February 2013

Another Tunnel

Well yes, I need to work on my blog titles, but here it is, another Tunnel.. Tunnel Mk 2 as it were...
I'd posted the images from the previous post on one of the model railway forums I belong to, whereby someone contacted me saying they loved the tunnel and could I make them one?
Wahey! thought I, a commission!
Alas, turns out they couldn't afford to pay me to make a tunnel, but being the helpful sort I am, I agreed to a compromise and said I would draw up an making the edging stones for him to build up his own tunnel.

It was in doing this that I realised that I'd made my previous edging stones way too small, and there were far too many of them, so looking back at the prototypes, I redrew the portal opening in Adobe Illustrator and set about making Tunnel Part II - the revenge...

On getting a more acceptable outline drawing, I pasted underneath the outline an image of some Random Ashlar Stone walling and then printed it out onto a self adhesive sheet of paper (normal paper and pritt stick works just as well), sticking it to a sheet of 5mm foamex, then cut out the tunnel aperture and basic structure. Following this I proceded to follow the mortar lines with a scalpel, peeling the printed paper off as I went along

Using a scalpel, all the mortar lines are painstakingly scribed through the print, to reveal the outline once the print is peeled off the Foamex.
Stones worked over with screwdriver blade, scratching little details into individual stones as I go. The edging stones are left purposefully flat to give the appearance of dressed stone.

Once all the lines had been cut into the Foamex, I then proceeded to go over the lines with a honed down chisel screwdriver blade to open up the mortar courses, exaggerating somewhat the actual scale, but making the stones appear chunkier. Using the screwdriver had the added bonus of embossing the foamex, thus making the stones appear less flat.

Once carving was complete, I was left with something like this - the abutments made up of two strips of 3mm foamex sandwiched together.

Capping ledges and a parapet wall were added next before gluing in a representative section of tunnel lining, made from a 1mm sheet of foamex, carved directly with the aforementioned screwdriver. I cut a secondary tunnel base with the oval shape drawn 1mm in from the outer, so that once glued together, the tunnel lining had a lip to bind on to.
It was all glued together with UHU all purpose glue and braced to prevent the lining pinging away and left to dry.

The undercoat. Serves 2 purposes - gives the top coat greys something to bind to, and acts as a mortar colour 
Upon drying, the whole lot was given a coat of B&Q's Sandstone matt emulsion, before being treated to varying mixes of grey brown and greys to reach what I think is a quite believable weathered Yorkshire Stone colour. The photo doesn't quite do it justice as it's a lot more grey in appearance in natural light.

The finished article complete with truck for scale. Looks a lot more brown in this light


  1. A beautiful model and a clever trick that: carving through the paper. I wonder if it could be used for cobbles as well... Many thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Mikkel, thanks for commenting. I'm sure if you found a suitable image, or even drew it up yourself it would work perfectly. Predrawing works so much quicker than measuring and marking by hand on the surface of the model - for me anyway.

  3. It is the definitive tunnel mouth - a superb job, Lee. The scribing works so well and the painted version is extremely convincing. I think this method would be perfect for modelling gritty northern townscapes...and when hand scribing on clay it is often an exercise in mental gymnastics trying to work out the snecking pattern in the coursing, so the overlay is a great idea.

  4. What a brilliant yet simple idea and one I will definitely try.
    The resulting model is outstanding.

  5. Thanks Iain and Geoff it really makes it all seem worthwhile with such encouraging comments from such great model-makers as yourselves. Iain, my layout is completely freelance, but I was aiming at Semi rural West Yorkshire with a Busy town station - so a bit of really dirty stone in the Civil Engineering aspects, with a slightly cleaner (but not too clean) stonework for buildings. I think the snecking makes walls look a lot more interesting than regular blockwork, but my non-mathematical mind finds it impossible to do it as I go along ;)

  6. This is so clever. I've never heard of foamex before. The result is gorgeous.

  7. Chas - it's used a lot in the Exhibition and Sign Making industry as a substrate for mounting prints onto. Where I work, we use it a lot, and as a result have plenty of offcuts that otherwise get thrown away. I was determined to find a use for it in my model making

  8. Yes, very effective approach and technique! Will definitely use this!! Thanks for sharing it.